“The camera isn’t aimed at my chest but the top of my pump is clearly visible.” Woman Forced To Turn On Her Camera During Meetings Despite Pumping Milk For Her Child
by Trisha Leigh
Even though there are legal protections in place that allow nursing people to be able to pump in the workplace, the truth remains that finding the time and privacy to do it can still be tricky.
OP went back to a high-demand job a few months after having a baby. Thanks to a hands-free pump she’s able to do a lot of multi-tasking.
I am a project manager and data scientist. I manage lots of different public health related projects. There is one project in particular that includes a really demanding team from a federal government department.
I recently returned back to work from maternity leave. I work in my office three days a week; on those days, I have to pump breastmilk at regular intervals for my baby. Luckily, I have my own private office and can usually just keep on working (emails, reports, etc) while I pump.
I have a hands-free, wearable pump which is convenient….but still definitely obvious if I am wearing it (it pokes out about my shirt and is not exactly silent).
When she was called to a Zoom meeting during a time when she would normally pump she just figured she would keep the camera off. Even after the organizer said cameras needed to be on, she just messaged them and let them know what was going on.
Recently we have a Zoom call scheduled during one of the times I needed to pump. Instead of missing the meeting, I figured I would just keep my camera off so I could wear my pump and still participate and listen. Heck, I was even IN my office and not working from home; I felt like I was being a pretty committed employee!
Meeting starts, a few people have their cameras off. The Lead makes the announcement: “I just want to remind everyone that our expectation is that you will have your cameras on because this is not a virtual meeting, it is a simulated in person meeting” (….whatever that means)
I sent a quick private message to explain I was paying attention, but pumping.
They reiterated that the cameras should be on, so OP shrugged and turned them on, apologizing for the noise her pump was making.
No response to me, just instead, a, “Again, the expectation is that all cameras will be on.”
So fine. I turn my camera on for this meeting of about 20 people, the camera isn’t aimed at my chest but the top of my pump is CLEARLY visible.
I unmuted myself, so you could also clearly HEAR the pump, and just said, “Thank you for your patience, I was adjusting my breast pump.”
The team got a message later saying that cameras were optional going forward and OP must have given herself a quiet high five.
The meeting continued awkwardly, with several other team managers letting me know privately it was fine to turn my camera off, but at that point, there really was no point in turning it off.
At the most recent meeting, the announcement was, “Please turn on your cameras if you are comfortable doing so.”
I bet she’s going to get one from Reddit, too!
The top comment says that OP did a service for everyone.
They think that OP should keep going as a power move.
This person says that OP could have contacted HR.
Not that HR would have necessarily done the right thing.
There’s a very simple bottom line here.
I’m proud of OP.
That said, this situation never should have happened.